Happy clients, happy cooks, happy us!

Happy clients, happy cooks, happy us!

From Shoreditch to Thailand to Norway, creating recipe videos, cooking for adults, children and even a dog...Over the past few months we have placed cooks into some brilliant jobs and, unsurprisingly, given the skill of the chefs on our books and the exciting opportunities we offer, there are some very happy candidates and equally happy clients!

Private Cooks and Chefs...a few reminders from Sugarella Cooks...

Imagine booking an expensive hotel with no pictures of the rooms, recommendations or trip advisor scores....

Imagine visiting a restaurant where you are expected to spend a lot of money which has no reviews, no menus in advance for you to see, and no one has ever heard of it...

Imagine buying an item of clothing off the peg online without knowing what it looks or feels like....

So - you want to cook in a private home. That is great, and we look forward to working with you. There are just a few things we would like to remind you:- 

  • We have numerous cooks on our books. And they all think they are as good as you. We are a young company and, for now, have less clients than cooks, so it helps to be nice to us, to stay in touch with us, and to let us know your whereabouts. That way it is likely you will be our first call when the next amazing job comes in.
  • You should be able to provide us with at least two recent references from your most recent employers. These should be private client employers, regardless of how famous/busy they might be, we work with numerous chefs and clients and can always get references from someone, whether that be the clients PA, or the client themselves, it is possible. Unfortunately without references, we cannot use you. How will we know who you are and how you work in a private home?
  • We advise all our chefs to have a DBS certificate. You are working in a private home, around young children, and invading someones private space. We want to know you are who you say you are, as much as the client does. Apply for one here.
  • Photographs of your food. This is really important. If you are a chef in this day and age, we advise you have your own website with lots of photographs of your food. Or at the very least, an instagram page which shows pictures of your food ONLY. We don't want to see what you get up to on your days off - create a private personal page for this. You may even find you get jobs from clients direct through your own instagram page or website.
  • Up to date CVs and references. When you finish a job, ask your client if they are happy to write a reference for you and if they are happy for you to pass their details to future employers. Update your CV, send it to us and let us know the amazing things you have been doing.
  • Reply to our e mails and phone calls. As much as you like to get a response from us, we like to get a response from you. If we contact you in regards to something, even if it is not for you, please just acknowledge us and let us know where you are in the world. If you are no longer needing work, we then no longer need to bother you.
  • Once a job is confirmed, contact the client at your earliest convenience to arrange menus, logistics and travel arrangements.
  • Flexibility. Being a private cook is not easy. We never said it was, and we know how hard it is ourselves, having been there and done it, and still doing it! Please expect the long hours and days, and understand that some jobs will be harder than others....
  • If you can do all of the above, get your chef whites ironed, your knives sharpened and....enjoy the experience.

To work for Sugarella Cooks or to book a cook, please contact us.

Time for Tea! Banana & Blueberry Cake - the recipe

Use up those old bananas in a delicious cake. I added blueberries to mine, but you could add any other old soft fruit, such as plums, peaches or raspberries rather than throwing them out! If you make this for your guests when on a job, they will be thrilled because you will be using old fruit instead of throwing it out and they have something yummy to tuck into!

Blueberry & Banana All in One Cake

  • 3 over ripe bananas
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self raising flour (or plain flour and add an extra 2 tsp of baking powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 110ml olive oil
  • 50g blueberies, plus a few extra (about 6 to dot on the top before baking)
  • Optional: 50g dark chocolate chunks
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celcius
  2. Line an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment
  3. Peel then mash the bananas in a bowl
  4. Place ALL ingredients into your food processor (I use a Kenwood K Mix for this)
  5. Whizz on a high speed until all ingredients are combined
  6. If using chocolate chunks, add these in now and mix in with a spatula
  7. Add the mixture to your cake tin and dot with extra blueberries on top (if using)
  8. Bake for approx 30-40 mins until nicely golden on top and a skewer comes out clean
  9. Decorate with melted white chocolate or sprinkled icing sugar (entirely optional)
  10. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

10 reasons to book a cook through Sugarella Cooks...

  1. We meet all our cooks before using them, have a good chat and really try to get to know them
  2. We fully reference check our cooks and do not use anyone that cannot provide two references from their most recent employers
  3. We offer a very personal and bespoke service, we listen to your needs and help match the right person to your job. Ella has done private cooking jobs herself for many years so has a clear understanding of what is required and what the jobs entail.
  4. It is important that the cooks are as happy as the clients. Therefore, we do not suggest jobs to cooks that we do not feel are the right fit for them
  5. We can offer advice to clients on salaries and expectations, based on their individual needs and requirements
  6. We offer honesty. If we do not feel we have the right person for the job, we will tell you, rather than sending someone forward that is going to be a disaster.
  7. We have a huge selection of people from newly qualified cooks to very experienced, all looking for a range of work from part time, full time, permanent or freelance
  8. We offer competitive recruitment fees in comparison with similar agencies
  9. We have a very good relationship with all our cooks and chefs, so it is likely they will want to do a good job to ensure we keep them in high regard!
  10. You can safely relax and enjoy your party/holiday/every day life and leave the hard work in the hands of someone you trust - us!

Book a cook today - contact us now.

Why use an agency like us?

"I don't work through agencies"......oh how many times have I heard chefs and cooks tell me this - and believe me, I do understand. You have had bad experiences in the past with larger companies that perhaps have too many jobs and not enough time. Perhaps they have never worked as a chef so don't understand the things us cooks and chefs just 'get'.

I started my agency due to the frustrations I found with other agencies. Whilst I am by nowhere near perfect, I do try to cover the gaps to make my business a success, to keep my staff on my side, as we have to remember - good staff are the people that keep your business going.

I am not saying I reply to every single application within nano seconds, but I do make a conscious effort to respond to each and every applicant, even if I do not believe they would be right for the type of roles I have. 

The next time you complain about an agency, perhaps stop and think. Whilst the one dream job you have seen advertised may not have worked for you, there may be another just around the corner. So don't burn your bridges with them - hold your breath and move on, you just never know what the future holds!

Why Cooks should work through Sugarella Cooks

  1. Do one job for us and get good feedback, it is likely you will then be on speed dial from then forward, bringing lots more business your way
  2. I have worked as a chef myself and understand the hard work involved. I never undersell cooks and price the jobs fairly.
  3. If there is an emergency and you find yourself unable to do the job - you just give me a call and I sort a replacement. If you are on your own - what do you do? You have let the client down, and it is likely they will not use you again.
  4. I have extensive insurance covering for damages in the home or accidents on the job (more information can be asked once you are registered)
  5. We have a regular pool of lovely clients, so it is likely you will get some nice jobs in wonderful places
  6. We are an ear at the end of the phone. If you are lonely on a job, worried about a client, I am here to talk. I understand all the anxieties cooks and chefs can go through!
  7. If you do one job for one of my clients and they ask you back, if you inform me, I offer an incentive where you are entitled to 10% of my fee. Why bother telling me your returning? Look back at point 3.
  8. I offer a personal and bespoke service, and am here to be the cooks friend, not the enemy.
  9. I have a number of contacts with chefs who may need a helping hand. If I know you are good, I will often recommend you to a chef in need.
  10. If I ask you about a job and it is not for you, I will not hold it against you and will call you again! Likewise, if I do not feel a job I have will be the right fit for you I will not ask you to do it.

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

I have just received the most delightful e mail from a client which has made my Christmas. I have to share it with you:

Rather belatedly (well it is Christmas!), I just wanted to say a big thank you to you for organising Charlton to come and work his magic at our early Christmas lunch. It was absolutely delicious - everyone was most complimentary. Charlton was a joy to work with and really good fun - it was all so easy and everything was cleared up. So thank you to you and to him!

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all my wonderful chefs & cooks that have really helped me make this first year of business such a success. Looking forward to great things in 2017. Huge luck to all those chefs cooking for my clients over Christmas and New Year, I will be thinking of you all.

Thank you, also, to all my loyal clients that have been brilliant. I am thrilled with the way things are going and don't forget it is not too late if you need a chef for any occasion!

Next year we will be introducing other services that we can help you with, so please do not hesitate to contact me with any staff need whether it is in or out of a kitchen.

With best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year.

 

 

 

How to prepare a dinner party in one afternoon - hassle free recipes.

I do love cooking, but I do not love standing over a hot stove for hours and being stressed when my guests arrive. Firstly, I am a very busy person and just do not have the time to be doing this and secondly, who does?!

So, yesterday I popped out on my lunch break to buy all the ingredients I needed to cook a 3 course meal for some friends coming over that evening. I started cooking at 3pm and by 6.30pm I had a beautifully laid table and everything ready to go for the oncoming arrival of guests at 7pm (and I had not been in the kitchen non-stop!)

Find my quick recipes and tips below...and good luck!

Slow cooked shoulder of Lamb with a sugar, rosemary and garlic glaze - serves 4 or 5 with left overs

Ingredients:

  • 1  x 2kg shoulder of lamb
  • 3 x cloves of garlic - crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 x sprigs of rosemary - finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 x tbsp of dark brown soft sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Extra rosemary and garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Place the lamb into a deep baking dish 

Mix the garlic, rosemary, oil and sugar together in a small dish and mix

Spread over the lamb evenly

Scatter some spare rosemary sprigs and whole cloves of garlic around the bottom of the dish then fill the dish with the water

Cover the dish in foil and put into the oven

After about 30 mins, baste the lamb (use a large spoon and collect the juices to pour over the lamb to keep it moist)

Keep basting every 30 minutes

After 2 hours, remove the foil and sprinkle some salt over the top of the lamb, put back in the oven and keep basting every 30 minutes.

After another 2 hours your lamb should be done. So it will have been in the oven for a total of 4 hours. The lamb can be taken out and left in a warm oven at 100 degrees Celsius covered in foil until you are ready to serve.

Use a fork and sharp knife to flake off your soft lamb...it should look something like this and taste delicious! Serve with some redcurrant jelly and use the juices from the bottom of the pan as a gravy.

For the vegetable accompaniements I roasted a few baby carrots and parsnips very simply, then when they were done I put into an oven proof dish ready to heat through later. I then steamed some french beans whilst we ate the starter and seasoned them with a little salt and blob of butter. I roasted some skin on new potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, which again were very easy to re-heat later.

Cooked lamb.JPG

Lemon Posset with a macademia brittle - makes 6 ramekins

Ingredients:

  • 600ml double cream
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Seeds from 1 x pomegranate (optional) - could use raspberries, blueberries or nothing!

Place the cream in a saucepan with the sugar over a medium to high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar has dissolved, put the heat up and leave to come to a steady simmer - do not take your eyes off it or it will over boil!

When bubbling, remove from the heat and add in the lemon zest and lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a jug and then pour the contents of the jug into 6 ramekins or the dishes of your choice. Add in the fruit at this stage, if using. Put into the fridge to chill then remove when it comes to pudding time and serve!

Macademia Brittle

Ingredients:

  • 200g sugar
  • 100g macademia nuts, roughly chopped

Grease a non stick baking dish lightly with some butter. Put the sugar into a heavy based non stick saucepan. Melt over a medium heat....once dissolved it will go through some stages. Just keep watching it until it turns a caramel brown. Don't be scared, just be watching it and ready to remove it from the heat once it turns a deep brown caramel colour. Add the nuts, then carefully pour onto your baking dish. Set aside to cool and then later on break up into shards to serve with your beautiful lemon posset!

Artichoke Fondue

Ingredients:

  • For presentation: 2 x hollowed out wholemeal unsliced loaf, with lid
  •  Large Jar of Mayonnaise, approx. 600g
  • 2-3 heaped TBSP Crème Fraiche
  • 2 x tins of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 x jar of sun blushed tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 500g cheddar, grated
  • 250g grated parmesan
  • 2 x crushed garlic cloves

 Combine the artichoke and tomatoes (if using) with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, garlic and cheese in a large bowl. You should have a consistency that if you put a dollop on a large wooden spoon it falls off the spoon in about 30 seconds (should not be too runny or stiff).

Fill the bread loaves with the artichoke mixture and cover with the lid of the bread

Wrap loves in tin foil and warm in the oven (approx. 160 degrees celcius) for approx. 45 minutes

Remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle over chopped basil.

Serve on a large platter with croutons (made from the bread you have taken out of the loaf), breadsticks and vegetable crudites.

 My table!

I have just moved house and we still don't have any blinds/curtains in the kitchen, and are using temporary bits and pieces for the moment until we can find the time to go house shopping. However, I managed to find some bits around the house to make the table look pretty, and the kitchen feel cosy, using candles and fairy lights which added a Christmassy and warming feel and definitely made you want to settle down for the night!

 

 

 

 

Ella's Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Puff Pie - a recipe for the weekend!

chicken pie

Ella’s Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Puff Pie

  • Serves 4 (plus left overs for the next day if not too greedy!)
  • Use a heatproof oven dish approx. 20 cm x 15cm x 8cm (deep)

Top Tip

When you place into the oven, place the dish onto a baking sheet BIGGER than your dish so that it catches any drips and avoids a messy, smokey oven the next day.

Ingredients:

·         6 x boneless and skinless FREE RANGE, (ideally organic) chicken thights (I like to get these fresh from the local butcher and not from the supermarket – ask them to prepare them for you and remove as much fat as possible)

·         160g smoked bacon lardons (or chop 6 rashers of smoked back bacon into small pieces)

·         200g baby button mushrooms

·         100g baby leaf spinach

·         2 x leeks (washed and finely sliced)

·         500g puff pastry (I suggest buying this than making your own, but the satisfaction of making your own pie with your OWN puff pastry is out of this world, so if you have the time and the patience, do try it)

·         2 tsp chopped thyme

·         2 tsp chopped rosemary

·         1 whole egg

·         Maldon salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

For the sauce:

·         100g gruyere, grated

·         50ml white wine

·         50ml double cream

·         900ml warm milk

·         300ml warm chicken stock

·         50g butter

·         50g plain flour

·         Salt (I prefer Maldon) and cracked black pepper

 

Approx cooking time: 45 mins - 1 hour prep and 30-40 mins cooking

 

1.       Heat a heavy based non stick large frying pan on the hob.

2.       Place the chicken thighs into a clean bowl and season with cracked black pepper

3.       Add a splash of oil and 2tsp of Maldon salt to the saucepan

4.       Carefully place the chicken thighs into the pan – they should sizzle when they touch the pan. Use tongs for this (invest in some if you don’t have any, they will change your life!).

5.       There should be plenty of space in your pan so the thighs should not be touching each other – if they are then do a few at a time.

6.       Heat the chicken on all sides until you have what looks like a crispy golden outer coating

7.       Place the chicken into your heavy based heatproof dish and set aside.

8.      Add the lardons to your frying pan and cook

9.       Once starting to go crispy, add the leeks and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and keep stirring until cooked.

10.   Before removing from the heat, add in the chopped herbs (thyme and rosemary) and mix all together over the heat.

11.    Sprinkle this mix into your dish with the chicken and set aside

12.    Pour over the (uncooked) baby leaf spinach – this will wilt inside when you cook the pie

13.    If you think your pie is looking a bit sparse, bulk up with peas or some more spinach or other green vegetables, but remember you have the sauce to fit in.

14.    Make the sauce:

a.       Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan

b.      Stir in the flour, and keep stirring for 2 minutes

c.       Pour in the warm milk and chicken stock gradually (you must be patient here and add a bit at a time). Each time you pour some into the mixture, you must stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps).

d.      Once you have added all the milk/stock, stir over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until thickened and lump free. At this point add your wine, and stir in.

e.       If you do find your sauce has created some lumps, you can cheat and use a blitzer to get rid of them – no one will know!

f.        Remove the sauce from the heat (once thickened) and add the grated cheese and cream at this point

g.       Stir well then pour over the chicken mix

 

 

15.    Leave the chicken dish to the side to cool (For at least one hour). If you want to leave this in the fridge overnight without covering it with pastry, it will be absolutely fine.

16.    Once the chicken and sauce mix is cool, you can top with pastry.

17.    Roll the pastry onto a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin.

18.   Carefully place the pastry over the top of the pie, not worrying if you have overhanging edges.

19.    Use a fork to make indentations all around the edge of the pie dish, to stick the pastry to the dish.

20.   Use a sharp knife to cleanly cut away the excess pastry.

21.    Make a hole in the middle of the pie to allow the air to escape when cooking.

22.   Use the excess pastry to make pretty designs on top such as leaves, initials or anything else that takes your fancy!

23.   Completely chill the dish in the fridge for at least one hour to ensure the pastry has a chance to settle.

24.   Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

25.   Crack and Beat the egg into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to neatly glaze the top of your pie.

26.   Sprinkle over some cracked black pepper and Maldon salt.

27.   Place into the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the puff pastry has risen and is golden.

28.   Check, and move the pie around (if, for example one side is cooked more than another, which is very common in older more uneven ovens)

29.   Cook for another 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

30.   Check the pie is cooked by inserting a sharp knife through the middle and if steam escapes and the sauce is bubbling, it is ready.

31.    You can cover the pie with foil and place in a warming oven if you are not serving immediately, but I would not advise doing this for more than 45 minutes as it will start to dry out.

32.   Serve with lovely fresh mint peas and creamy mash potato for a lovely warming family supper.

33.   This pie tastes even better when re heated the next day, so perhaps double the recipe to make two and have left overs!

chicken pie 2

Healthy Granola with Maple Yoghurt Balls

Granola

Granola (Dairy & Gluten Free)

Ingredients:

  • ·         400g Walnuts
  • ·         200g Whole Almonds, skin on
  • ·         480g Porridge Oats
  • ·         150g Poppy Seeds
  • ·         300g Pumpkin Seeds
  • ·         300g Sunflower Seeds
  • ·         300g Flaxseeds
  • ·         9tbsp coconut oil
  • ·         9tbsp maple syrup
  • ·         6tsp ground cinnamon
  • ·         3tsp ground nutmeg
  • ·         400g raisins
  • ·         200g chopped dates
  • ·         200g dried figs, chopped
  • ·         200g dried cranberries

Method

  1. Roughly chop the walnuts and almonds into rough chunks
  2. Add to a deep baking dish with all of the dry ingredients, apart from the raisins and dried fruit
  3. Melt the cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut oil and maple syrup together over a low heat
  4. Pour over the nutty ingredients and mix well
  5. Place into the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes. Keep checking through the cooking process, and stirring.
  6. After 30 minutes the mixture should be more crunchy. You may wish to add more coconut oil or maple syrup if it looks a little dry. Add in the dried fruit at this stage, give a good mix, then return to the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, place into mini kilner jars for a brilliant gift idea or just to look pretty on the kitchen table.
  8. Your kitchen will smell delicious when you make this, so think about making it just before you have guests coming!

These Maple Yoghurt balls make a wonderful topping for the above or if you are dairy free, top your granola with some good quality Coconut or Almond Yoghurt - delicious!

Feeds 4:

  • 1kg thick greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 200g hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  1. Combine the yoghurt and syrup together in a bowl.
  2. Place onto a large square of doubled muslin cloth. Gather the muslin together and tie tightly with string. If you don’t have muslin, use two clean teatowels.
  3. Suspend the bag of yoghurt over a bowl in the fridge for two days to remove any liquid.
  4. Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar together in a small dish.
  5. Form one tablespoon of the strained yoghurt into a ball with wet hands. Roll in the cinnamon and sugar, then coat in the chopped hazelnuts. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Place onto lined baking sheets when done.
  6. Keep in your fridge for up to 5 days.

Looking for cooks, chefs and extra pairs of hands

I set Sugarella Cooks up just over a year ago and we have had a brilliant year, with word spreading fast about my services.

I have lots of fantastic jobs, in particular for newly qualified cooks or second jobbers in London. If you are interested in registering with me, at the moment I am really interested in anyone looking for a permanent job in London or working at Christmas or in the Alps for the ski season!

In order to register with us, there are a few steps:

1. Send us your cv to cv@sugarellacooks.co.uk

2. We will give you a telephone call if we think we can help you

3. We will ask for at least 2 references from the most recent people you have been cooking for, and references from any longer term jobs you have had

4. We will arrange a meeting with you to speak face to face and find out more about you. This is usually in a friendly coffee shop in London and more of an informal chat to get to know each other

5. We help to find you a job

Look forward to hearing from you all!

Flourless Chocolate Cake - Gluten Free - from our friends at Sugarella Cakes!

Have you ever wanted to make something impressive and beautiful but don't have the patience for fiddly icing and sugar flowers? This cake is easy to make, and foolproof. The icing and cigarello sticks hide any flaws in your cake. It is my favourite cake to make, and one of the most popular amongst my clients, and this recipe is GLUTEN FREE.

Follow my simple steps and good luck. This recipe makes a 9 inch round cake approx 4 inches high. Plenty big enough for at least 20 small slices.

What you will need before you start baking

  • 3 x springform non stick 10 inch round cake tins -
  • Greaseproof Paper
  • 1 x 12 inch round silver cake board - I get mine from cake stuff
  • 1 x 9 inch round silver cake board - I get mine from cake stuff
  • Ribbon of your colour choice
  • Pritt stick
  • Name/message cake topper - I get mine from
  • Decorations for the top of your cake - in the past I have used chocolates from hotel chocolat, the favourite sweeties of the birthday girl/boy, chocolate shavings from The Chocolate Trading Company and fresh flowers of your choice can be beautiful on these cakes.
  • Chocolate cigarello sticks from The Chocolate Trading Company(you will need approx 85 cigarellos for a 9 inch cake)
  • Electric Scales
  • Kitchenaid or Kenwood mixer (ideally)
  • Magimix
  • Large metal mixing bowls
  • Metal spoons, spatulas etc.

Baking Day 

For the cake:

  • 900g plain GOOD QUALITY chocolate, cut into chunks - use dark chocolate, not MILK!
  • 675g caster sugar
  • 530ml boiling water
  • 675g cold butter
  • 18 eggs, FREE RANGE - separated (separate them into CLEAN METAL BOWLS)
  • 3 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 6 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Optional: grated rind and juice from 1 orange
  1. Cut the butter into small chunks
  2. Preheat oven to 180C
  3. Grease and line the cake tins with greaseproof paper/baking parchment
  4. Mix the chocolate and sugar together in a magimix - you should end up with a powder
  5. Add the boiling water, butter cubes, egg yolks, vanilla, coffee and orange (if using) to the chocolate and mix
  6. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak in a metal bowl
  7. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a metal spoon
  8. When you have folded all the egg whites into the mix, (make sure there are no white lumps), you can divide the cake mix into your 3 tins
  9. Put your cakes into the oven and cook for approx 40-60 minutes. They are cooked when a skewer is inserted and it comes out clean
  10. When your cakes are ready, remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack and then leave them in the FRIDGE OVERNIGHT to cool and firm up. It is very important to do this as otherwise your cakes will be too crumbly to handle.

For the icing:

  • 750g butter, softened
  • 1.5kg icing sugar - sieved
  • Milk - approx 200ml
  • Vanilla Bean Paste - 3 tsps
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder - sieved
  • 100g melted plain chocolate
  • Orange rind (optional) if you want a chocolate orange taste!
  1. Cut the butter into small cubes and place into your Kenwood/Kitchen aid with the vanilla bean paste
  2. Beat this and leave it beating for approximately 15 minutes - YES SERIOUSLY! You want your butter to turn white and be really really soft before you add any icing.
  3. Once your butter is soft and white, slowly add in half of the icing sugar and beat for another 15 minutes
  4. Add in the other half of the icing sugar, beat again for 15 minutes. Then add in the cocoa powder and melted chocolate and mix.
  5. Add in a splash of milk until you get a 'dropping consistency' - if you put some on a wooden spoon it should slip off without you forcing it too hard.
  6. Mix in the orange rind now if you are using it.
  7. Do not put your icing in the fridge - leave it at room temperature
  8. Any left over icing can be frozen for up to 3 months, but when you go to use it again de frost it thoroughly and re beat.

Decoration Day

  1. Remove greaseproof paper from the cakes and cut each cake in half if it is not too flat. Dont worry if it has flattened so much you cannot do this - you need a minimum of three layers and you have three cakes!
  2. The cake will have shrunk a little bit so should fit onto a 9 inch board nicely. IF some of the sides are over spilling the board, cut them down to fit it. If you cut it too much - dont worry - you can cover it up with your yummy butter icing!
  3. Melt some more chocolate and spread this all over your 12 inch cake board and leave to cool and dry.
  4. Then put a dollop of icing onto the 12 inch cake board and put the 9 inch cake board on top of this, secure firmly.
  5. Layer up your cakes onto the 9 inch board and fill between with generous amounts of butter icing.
  6. Carefully ice the cake all up the sides and all around - be generous!
  7. Smooth off the sides neatly
  8. Alternately put one white chocolate cigarello stick, then one dark chocolate cigarello stick round the sides, making sure they are lined up nicely and at the same height. You can use just one colour here - it is entirely up to you.
  9. Carefully tie a ribbon around the whole cake to secure you cigarellos in place.
  10. Use pritt stick around the edge of the 12 inch cake board and carefully place your ribbon flat around the base edge of the board - we dont want to see any silver sides!
  11. Decorate the top of your cake as you wish - with fresh flowers, cake toppers, sweets, fruit or chocolate shavings - entirely your choice!
  12. Leave in the fridge overnight and then serve the next day.

A New Member Of Our Team - Sarah Jane Large

Sarah Jane

Meet Sarah Jane. I am thrilled to have her on board helping me to find staff for all our Scottish Jobs, and various others.

About Sarah Jane Large

Since learning from the expertise of Lou Hutton at the Food of Course cookery school, Sarah Jane has almost 10 years experience working as a freelance cook. Sarah Jane's cooking career has taken her to snowy mountains, remote Scottish islands, country houses, yachts in the Mediterranean, North and South India, the USA and plenty more incredible places. She loves using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients to create bespoke and original menus. 

Sarah Jane's base for most of her years as a private chef has been Edinburgh. Cooking for small intimate dinner parties, busy shooting/fishing lodges and large corporate events as well as running many of her own pop- up restaurants.

Scotland and ski chalets! are her game. Sarah Jane has travelled to some places that you would expect only sheep to live. Up a 20 mile dirt track in a foot of snow to look after a busy stalking party, to being put on a boat in the blistering sun out to an island with only a couple of freezer bags and her knives to cook a special 50th birthday dinner. Cooking for many different occasions, and for such a variety of people in many unusual places has challenged Sarah Jane to really use her initiative to achieve top quality results! This girl knows Scotland and it's lodges inside out and her extensive experience means that she completely understands what is expected and wanted from both the clients and cooks point of view, both of which to Sugarella Cooks is incredibly important!

As well as still doing freelance work across the UK, Sarah Jane now works for COOK (the homemade frozen food company).  She will be helping me out in her spare time with all our Scottish recruitment, plus any other roles that come her way.

Some of Sarah Jane's achievements:

ITV's Taste the Nation : Presented by Nick Hancock, Sarah Jane was picked to compete in this competition, with Nick Nairn (Scottish chef) as her mentor! Three of them, representing Perthshire, spent an incredible few months dotting between Nick Nairn's cook school at the Lake of Menteith and the ITV studios in London whilst also having the opportunity to spend spend some time at Anton Mosimann's cook school. They had to impress judges such as Henrietta Green, William Sitwell and Richard Johnson, and promote the best of Perthshire's produce by creating dishes showcasing local ingredients, competing against 36 counties across the UK. They made it to the semi-finals!

Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence: In 2015, Sarah Jane made it through to the semi-finals of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence, and this competition again broadened her knowledge and skills.  It was probably her toughest challenge yet.

If you are looking for a cook or other type of domestic staff in Scotland or are looking for a job in Scotland, please contact Sarah Jane on sarahjane@sugarellacooks.co.uk 

A Trip to the Cotswolds

 The view from our hotel room

The view from our hotel room

If you love food and the countryside, then I can highly recommend a trip to Broadway in Worcestershire. It is a stunning Cotswold chocolate box village that you will not want to leave.

We ate at The Lygon Arms in the Great Hall, and were wowed by what came out of the kitchen. Whilst I would not say the atmosphere is first class, the food makes up for it. If you go there in the next few weeks, go for the mozzarella followed by the seabream (my choice) to leave with a satisfied smile on your face.

Our Sunday was spent exploring the area, and what a beautiful place it is. I honestly did not want to leave and have since been looking at places in the area that I can move to!

Breakfast was spent in Broadway Deli. Now, this is any foodies DREAM. Think of any gourmet food product and you will find it. (Just missing Sugarella Cakes Brownies, haha). Beautiful fruit displays outside, you could be on a film set. Rows and rows of jars inside from independent food suppliers and small businesses, there is a beautiful gin display that almost looks like a work of art, and on the top floor you will find some incredible handmade wooden boards and kitchen supplies, along with some beautiful cookery books and handwoven rugs.

We sat downstairs on their quirky window benches and enjoyed Eggs Royale and a Full English - beautifully presented and tasted delicious. The coffee is so good that we each had more than just one. Service is excellent, full of smiling and happy faces. This is a non-pretentious cafe, done well. Really, really well, and I cannot wait to go back for another visit.

We spent the afternoon at Broadway Tower. Take a walk past the tower and back down to Broadway. You may be lucky to find the dry stone wallers hard at work - quite an incredible skill that I could watch for hours on end.

Everything is completely immaculate at Broadway Tower - including this Shepherds Hut outside cafe owned by Morris & Brownie - I love this so much I would like to own it myself!

Shepherds Hut.JPG

The views are stunning with some peaceful deer on the neighbouring land, which I could quite happily sit and watch all day. A very therapeutic experience...

If you are looking for a weekend break, I strongly recommend a visit to Broadway. Enjoy!

A Day in the Life of a Private Household Chef

Earlier on this year, I placed a chef in a household in London, where he is employed to cook for a family of varying ages, consisting of 5 people (plus guests). The diets this amazing chef is cooking for range dramatically. Some members of the family eat everything, some only fish and chicken and others follow a dairy, gluten and sugar free diet, and one member is strictly Vegan! There is never a dull moment for this chef and we are so thrilled to have placed him in this position. He is really happy in the role, and the clients adore him and his food.

I asked the chef to give me an overview of a standard day for him, so you can read about some of the things involved in a job like this....and here is what he says:

06.00 - my alarm goes off. This doesn't mean just going to work for me. This is a new day for new opportunities to be creative. I get up early enough to start my day with morning exercise. I find this very beneficial as it gives me more energy to get through a busy day. 

07.00/08.00 - Arrive at work. First thing to do is set the table and then cook breakfast. Once Breakfast is done, I pack up some snacks and lunch for the little girl to take to school. I then pack up snacks and lunch for Mr G to take to work. If it is a weekend, things are different as they all eat at home.

Before I start preparing lunch for Mrs G and other family members (if they are around), I have a 1.5 hour break which I usually spend creating a new recipe, or I pop out to the shops to get any ingredients I need for that day.

12.00-13.00 - Lunch is served, but it varies from day to day.

When lunch is over, I have about 2 to 3 hours of free time. I sometimes spend this going for a walk to get some fresh air, or I stay in and start planning preparations for dinner.

17.00-19.30 - Dinner is prepared and served. After this, I tidy up, leave the kitchen immaculate and ready for the next day, and then I make my way home.

My relationship with the other household staff

I am not required to cook for the staff, but I personally believe it is nice to keep them in mind when I am cooking. I always make sure there is some extra food for them to enjoy. I think it is important to maintain a good relationship between the other members of staff and myself. We spend many hours in the household together! Once they have enjoyed eating my food, they are very happy to give me a hand with the washing up. I see this as a mutual favour!

Daily Challenges

Every day I will be faced with a new challenge. The most common will be friends of the family appearing unexpected. I am required to cook for them. In these circumstances, I have to be quick and innovative to be able to serve delicious meals to them in no time. The ability to multitask is of paramount importance at these times.

How to avoid pressure and stress

To avoid too much pressure and stress on myself, I always need to be ready for last minute cooking. I have ingredients in stock prepared and always plan some quick but delicious recipes to use on these occasions.

What do I love about my job?

The beauty of being a personal chef is that I have full freedom to create new, exciting recipes and it is never boring. There is also a huge amount of appreciation for my cooking, which makes the whole job even more fulfilling.

What is the key to success as a private chef?

Flexibility, creativity, reliability, competence and patience are a prerequisite for the success of a private chef. A good sense of humour is always an advantage too!

 

If you are a chef interested in a job like this, send your CV to us today. cv@sugarellacooks.co.uk 

If you are a client looking to employ a private chef like this, please contact us with your requirements.

Visit to The Avenue Cookery School

  The Avenue Cookery School  has a range of courses suitable for beginner cooks looking to get into the world of cooking work.

The Avenue Cookery School has a range of courses suitable for beginner cooks looking to get into the world of cooking work.

This week I went to meet the lovely Sophie Horsford, from The Avenue Cookery School. This family run business has recently moved to Wandsworth, their fabulous kitchens are just a 7 minute walk from Wandsworth Town Station.

The Avenue runs two week cookery courses suited to beginner cooks who are looking to learn the basics before potentially starting a career in the food industry, or doing their first family cooking job. I highly recommend their Basic to Brilliant Course for anyone wanting to get into the world of cooking work. Attending this course will teach you all the basic skills you need to know to get you on the path to becoming a brilliant cook. I would recommend any cooks who have attended this course to start off as an assistant cook to gain as much experience in the real working world as possible, before embarking on a job on your own.

If it is a ski season you are looking to do, check out their Chalet Course - a two week course covering cooking techniques as well as how to look after your chalet. You will cover all the cooking needed to work in a small chalet as well as being taught how to make a bed, how to clean a sink and all sorts of other brilliant skills which will stay with you for life! Anyone attending this course could be suitable for some of my host positions in upmarket chalets, so it is definitely worth contacting me to see if we can help. I am also happy to recommend ski companies that you could apply to for work if I cannot help you.

As well as these longer courses, The Avenue offers a range of day, evening, corporate and weekend courses so check out their website for further information.

For any cooks wondering which courses I would recommend to them depending on what they are wanting to do with their life, I would be very happy to speak to anyone to offer my advice. Please contact me and I will hope to be of some help!

  The Avenue Cookery School  is a family run business based in Wandsworth, London with a range of cookery courses from evening, day, corporate to longer two week courses.

The Avenue Cookery School is a family run business based in Wandsworth, London with a range of cookery courses from evening, day, corporate to longer two week courses.

 

 

Tips for first time holiday cooks

I have written a few tips for cooks going out on their first jobs abroad cooking for a family. These are things I found useful when working as a private cook, and hopefully they will help you as well.

Ella's Tips:-

  • Take any knives/cooking equipment you really like (in hold luggage)
  • Make sure your flight is booked in your FULL NAME that is shown on your passport. I once had a disaster as my full name is Eleanor, but the clients had booked the flight under Ella and I almost was not allowed to fly.
  • Leave PLENTY of time to catch your flight. It will not be a good start to the holiday if you miss your flight, this can easily be avoided. Be organised and prepared. If you get to the airport too early, you can keep yourself amused with magazines and books, but it is best to be too early than too late!
  • Once arrived and settled, you can ask for the WIFI Code (if there is one) to allow you to keep in touch with the outside world and book in upcoming jobs, particularly important if you are a freelance cook
  • Take lots of books, magazines etc and download some things to watch on IPAD if you can for when you get time off.
  • Photocopy or write out a few recipes from books that you think may be useful. Avoid taking big bulky books with you.
  • Always clean up after yourself and work in a tidy environment
  • Take plenty of chef whites and/or aprons with you to wear.
  • On a day to day basis, wear comfortable shoes (eg trainers/chef shoes), chef trousers/jeans and top or similar - always wear hair tied back and have a clean apron. If you are going to a very hot place you may like to invest in some cool linen 3/4 length trousers or similar. Avoid wearing flip flops in the kitchen. It is dangerous and you may burn your feet/drop something on them. No nail varnish, you should not wear jewellery when cooking and minimal make up! You must remember you are on a cooking job, not a fashion parade! It is important you look clean (clean hair included) and smart at all times, but not too "made up".
  • Take an adaptor for the plugs so you can charge your phone etc.
  • Find out where the washing machine is to wash tea towels, oven gloves etc - always have plenty of clean ones and if there are not enough, you should buy them.
  • Find out where hoover and mop and bucket are to wash kitchen floor – this should be done daily. Whenever you leave the kitchen during the day, make sure you sweep the floor and leave everything clean and tidy.
  • Keep kitchen area very clean and tidy at all times, clear up as you go
  • Mark any food you do not want people to eat with a label to say 'please do not eat!'. This is particularly important if you are working for a family with teenagers or young 20 year olds, as they may do midnight fridge raids so make sure you cover yourself for all situations!
  • Keep smiling, even if you are exhausted!
  • Keep fridge and oven clean. Leave the kitchen in a better condition than when you found it!
  • Keep your accommodation clean and tidy. If there is a cleaner that cleans your room and you have left it in a mess, this will go back to the client. You will probably need to wash your own sheets – find out where replacements are and where you should do your washing etc.
  • Buy J-cloths and cleaning cloths if they don’t appear to have any
  • Always empty bins when full and at the end of each day - when hot these will get smelly - ask them where they go when you first arrive
  • Always have a nicely stocked fruit bowl for people to help themselves to - display it nicely
  • Find out where loo is for you to use
  • IF time, it is good to do little extras like biscuits/cakes, canapes before dinner etc (even if not asked)
  • Crisps and nuts can be useful for nibbles before supper if you are running short of time, so have a good stock
  • Simple is good - keep food fresh and simple. Never over complicate things and avoid cooking something you have never done before, or dishes you do not feel confident cooking
  • Make sure you have plenty of washing up liquid, dishwasher tabs etc before you do your first shop
  • Always drink plenty of water as you will be working long hours and will wake up with a bad headache if you are dehydrated
  • Don't forget to eat! Ensure you put aside at least 30 minutes a day to sit down and eat a PROPER meal. Avoid picking, it will just make you feel bad. Make sure that you make yourself something each day and do not be embarrassed to eat. If necessary, try to find a room where you can eat in peace away from the clients.
  • Find out where all the stuff is for laying the table when you first arrive
  • If you can, lay as much out for breakfast the night before (not always possible if they use the same room to eat in at all times)
  • Be professional but friendly, chat when spoken to etc...but not overly chat
  • ALWAYS make friends with the other household staff. These are your allies, and must not become your enemies. It is likely they will have worked for the clients for years, so the clients will have a huge amount of trust and respect in them, so you must stay friends. Avoid gossiping with the staff, stick to a professional but friendly manner with them. If they like you, they will help you. If they don't, they won't! Do not make them feel threatened at any time. Always offer them left over cooked food, a good sweetener!
  • Be discreet at all times - do not gossip about clients or their friends!
  • Try to find out timings they would like to eat. When the food is ready at their times, go and tell client politely
  • Depending on what the job is, if it is a family summer holiday, lay things out in a buffet style for them to help themselves to, unless otherwise specified
  • Have a few menus jotted out - write out a few lunch and dinner ideas before you go
  • The kitchen you are working in will be very much a domestic kitchen with people walking through, perhaps getting cups of tea etc. You must be patient about this, and also stick to simple cooking that you don't mind people watching you cook. They may ask you questions/try to talk to you while you cook, so you must have a calm manner and be relaxed and talk to them in a professional way, rather than getting in a flap!
  • Write a time plan at the start of each day with everything you need to do, and when - have a tick list
  • If the clients have young children, try and put some time aside to do some baking or a cooking lesson with them, this will go down a treat with the clients! Do ask the clients permission to do this first before suggesting it to the children!
  • Any money you are given for shopping, have a separate purse to put it in and use that to also put in receipts for shopping
  • If you use the BBQ, make sure you clean it down the next day and leave it in the condition you found it. If it is a Gas BBQ make sure there is enough gas to cook with!
  • Find out how the oven works if not obvious!
  • Find out how the dishwasher works, if not obvious!
  • Remember to take bags to the supermarket in case they do not have them - they should have them at the house
  • Use your day off to rest and enjoy the area/go to beach etc. Try to avoid going into the house/kitchen as you may end up working/washing up!
  • Remember you are abroad but you are NOT on holiday. You are on a job, and working, therefore you will be expected to have a working attitude during the dates you are employed. It may not always feel nice cooking in a hot kitchen while others are relaxing and enjoying themselves, but you did sign up to the job, and will get a nice amount of money at the end to enable you to enjoy yourself in some way or another! If you work hard and the clients like you, it is very likely that they will ask you back to cook for them again, or even recommend you to their friends for other jobs.
  • If you have long hair, I suggest wearing a bandana, or something to avoid hair falling into food.
  • If you are concerned about anything at any time, do get in touch with me. I am fully aware of the ups and downs of working for private clients and I am a very good listener and can offer some sound advice.
  • Remember the job is an incredible experience to cook for some lovely clients in some beautiful places, so do enjoy it and have fun experimenting with all the local produce in the area.
summer cooking